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Overview of electronic signature law and its legality in Belgium

Belgium has recognized electronic signatures as legally valid ever since the passage of The Acts of 20 October 2000 and 9 July 2001. In 2016, the eIDAS regulations standardized these laws for all EU-member countries, including Belgium.

Are electronic signatures legal in Belgium?

Under Belgium law, handwritten signatures are not required for a contract to be seen as legally binding. Electronic signatures are legally admissible in court, though they are subject to proof.

eSignatures are acceptable for general business use. This means that electronic signatures are appropriate in most general business settings, though some exceptions may apply. Local technology standards could restrict certain types of transactions.

Understanding Belgium’s legal system

Belgium operates under a civil law system, which is derived from Roman law. Civil law systems are based on a codified set of principles and are regularly revised and updated. Unlike common law systems, this type of legal system doesn’t rely very heavily on legal precedents.

However, Belgium’s legal system does contain many elements of common law systems. The country favors a civil law system when it comes to family relations, property, criminal law, and contracts. But the country’s taxation and banking systems more closely resemble a common law system.

Belgium’s legal system is very similar to the legal systems in Austria and Germany. Each of these countries is technically operating under a civil law system but resembles a common-law system as well.

An overview of eIDAS regulations

The electronic identification and trust services (eIDAS) regulations came into effect in July 2016. The goal of these regulations was to provide a consistent legal framework for secure electronic transactions across the European Union.

The eIDAS regulations made it easier for businesses to fully digitize their business processes. That’s because it gave both businesses and citizens the peace of mind to know when and how electronic signatures are considered legally acceptable.

The eIDAS regulation is considered a regulation, as opposed to a directive. That means it applies to all EU member states.

The three types of eSignatures

Electronic signatures are considered legally valid in Belgium, but eIDAS regulations do differentiate between different types of eSignatures. Here is a brief overview of the different kinds of eSignatures:

  • SES (Standard electronic signature): An SES is a signature where there is no indisputable proof of who signed the document. This type of signature is often typed or scanned.
  • AES (Advanced electronic signature): An AES is usually an eSignature with unique properties that indicate who signed the document. This type of signature is considered more trustworthy than an SES.
  • QES (Qualified electronic signature): A QES is the most trustworthy type of electronic signature. This signature is created using a secure qualified creation device.

Local technology standards in Belgium

Belgium follows a tiered legal model, which means it recognizes a QES as a distinct type of electronic signature. In tiered countries, a QES is given a special legal status in terms of authenticity and trustworthiness.

And as an EU member, Belgium follows the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to define what qualifies as a QES.

Can PandaDoc software be used in Belgium?

Yes, PandaDoc electronic signature software complies with eSignature laws in Belgium. That means you can use PandaDoc to carry out all of your business contracts.

Our software makes it easy to draw, type, or upload your signature to your contracts. And our software is 100% ESIGN and UETA compliant.

Try PandaDoc free for 14 days to see if it’s the right fit for you.